Jackson K. and Wyatt B.
(Article written on 4/17, all statistics are not up to date)
The count is 2-2 with two outs in the bottom of the first inning, runners on second and third. “Japan’s Babe Ruth” readies for the pitch. Cleveland’s pitcher, Josh Tomlin, throws the deuce at 74 miles per hour. Ohtani eyes the pitch and hacks at it with his Ichiro-like swing. The ball sails towards the right-center gap as Tomlin prays that the ball stays in the park. But Tomlin’s prayers were not answered. The Japanese rookie’s first at bat was a huge success. In his new home stadium, he found the bleachers on a three run home run.
Ever since the announcement came that Shohei was heading from the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters to the MLB, he has been the talk of the league. This two-way stud is an elite pitcher and hitter, the better being the latter. In his pitching debut, he struck out 6 batters in 6 innings while allowing 3 runs and picking up the win. That game did not live up to his hype. People were skeptical whether Ohtani could be the real deal.
But in his first start at Angel Stadium, he flirted with perfection. Ohtani was perfect through 6 ⅓ innings with 11 strikeouts, until he allowed a hit to Marcus Semien, the shortstop for the Oakland Athletics. He ended up finishing with 12 strikeouts in 7 innings allowing only 1 hit. The win brought up the thought again that Ohtani could be the next Babe Ruth.
Through April 17, Ohtani has hit .367 with 3 home runs, a triple, and 11 RBI’s. Not only that, but he boasts a 2.08 ERA with 2 wins and 12.46 K/9 in 2 starts. Although Anaheim’s bright star is off to a rocket-fast start, there is a possibility of a fluke. In 2015, the Los Angeles
Dodgers’ rookie center fielder, Joc Pederson, had an All-Star first half of the season. He hit 20 round-trippers before the mid-season break, but after, he only hit 6. Pederson has never returned to his original rookie flair since.
These Angel’s fans were worried if the rookie would even perform mediocrely because his Spring Training performance was subpar. Ohtani could not hit during the Spring, and his pitching was at the worst level of his career. Baseball fans, mainly Angels’ fans, worried if the Japanese legend would be an American bust, but he has proved everyone wrong.
There is a whole season ahead and a bright future for Shohei. If he can keep a consistent pace and stay evenly keeled for the whole 162 games to stay above water. Since he has a lot of hype, critics will jump at any chance to burn him down.